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Developing Professionalism and Business Etiquette Skills at the Office and Online

  • Developing Professionalism andBusiness Etiquette Skills at the Officeand Online

What exactly is professionalism? Your future employer will expect you to possess what are often referred to as soft skills in addition to your technical knowledge. Soft skills are the hallmark of a professional. They are essential career attributes that include the ability to diversity.71 Sometimes called employability skills or key competencies, these soft skills are desirable in all business sectors and job positions.72 In the digital age, professionalism also means maintaining a positive online presence, a subject we discuss in Chapters 1 and 5. Attitude is a desire to show others consideration and respect. It includes a desire to make others feel comfortable.
Good manners and a businesslike, professional demeanor are among the top soft skills that employers seek in job candidates. Employers prefer courteous and professional job candidates over those who lack these skills and traits. But can you really learn how to be courteous, civil, and professional? Of course! This section gives you a few pointers.
Understanding Professionalism and the Cost of Incivility
Not everyone who seeks a job is aware of the employer’s expectations. Some new-hires have no idea that excessive absenteeism or tardiness is grounds for termination. Others are surprised to learn that they are expected to devote their full attention to their duties when on the job. One young man wanted to read Harry Potter novels when things got slow. Many employees don’t realize that they are sabotaging their careers when they sprinkle their conversation with like, you know, and uptalk (making declarative statements sound like questions).
Projecting and maintaining a professional image can make a real difference in helping you obtain the job of your dreams. Once you get that job, you are more likely to be taken seriously and much more likely to be promoted if you look and sound professional.
Do not send the wrong message with unwitting or unprofessional behavior. Figure 2.12 reviews seven areas you will want to check to be sure you are projecting professionalism. Gaining an Etiquette Edge in a Networked World
An awareness of courtesy and etiquette can give you a competitive edge in the job market. Etiquette, civility, and goodwill efforts may seem out of place in today’s fast-paced offices. However, when two candidates have equal qualifications, the one who appears to be more polished and professional is more likely to be hired and promoted. As workloads increase and face-to-face meetings decline, bad behavior is becoming alarmingly common in the American workplace and may exact a high cost “of whittling away at people’s health, performance, and souls.”73 One survey showed that 71 percent of workers said they had been insulted, demeaned, ignored, or otherwise treated discourteously by their coworkers and supervisors.74 Employers, of course, suffer from the resulting drop in productivity and exodus of talent. Employees, too, suffer. They worry about incidents, think about changing jobs, and cut back their efforts on the job. Workplace rudeness also turns customers away.75 Businesses are responding to increasing incidents of desk rage and cyberbullying in American workplaces by establishing policies to enforce civility. In short, it is not hard to understand why employers are looking for people who are courteous, polite, respectful, and well mannered.

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